families. Some of them have been seized and imprisoned, while a much larger number have been compelled to seek safety by a total abandonment of their homes. It would have been at any time within the period indicated, as it is now, in the power of a body of troops, of three or four regiments at most, to have afforde their people ample protection, and to have chastised in an exemplary manner the invaders of our soil, and most probably to have captured every one of them. If the war is to continue for another year or two, the loss to our troops of supplies (especially of beef) from these two counties will be severely felt, I do not think I should transcend a fair estimate of its value in saying that in fat and stock cattle and hogs alone the people of the two counties named have already sustained an aggregate loss of more than $100,000 and unless they can be relieved of the presence of the enemy before the spring it is to be feared that they will be stripped of everything necessary to the sustenance of their families. Romney, the country seat of Hampshire, is now in the possession of the enemy, who threaten to make it their winter quarters, and the people of Moorefield, the county seat of Hardy, are in dread of a like visitation. Berkeley Springs, the county seat of Morgan, was visited on Monday last, being their county court day, by a detachment of Federal troops from the neighboring town of Hancock, in Maryland, who came in upon it so suddenly that the sheriff of the county, the members of the court, and a number of the most respectable citizens of the county were seized and carried as prisoners to the headquarters of these bandits in Maryland. The effect of all this has been, and is being, to compel men who would be otherwise true and loyal to our cause to seek that protection from our enemies which our own Government is unable to aford them. s being done to a greater or less extent in the counties of Berkeley and Jefferson, and the apprehension of it here is not without its influence in preparing some of our own people to follow their example, and unless the evil can be arrested there is no foreseeing to what disastrous and discreditable consequences it may lead. Some uneasiness, in which I do not participate, is felt here that Winchester is in danger from a concentration upon it of the enemy's forces at Romney and in the neighborhood of Harper's Ferry. That it might be easily captured by such a move is undoubtedly true, as we have no force to resist them except the skeletons of two or three regiments of militia and a small force of mounted men under Colonel Ashby. My confidence in our security rests in the impracticability of their venturing so far intot he interior, where they might be cut off by a detachment of our force at Manassas coming suddenly upon them. I have been obliged to write very hurriedly, and perhaps have not made myself very clearly understood, but sufficiently so, I hope, to explain the importance of something being done, and with as little delay as possible, to give our border people an assurance that the Government has both the power and the will to give them protection.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
J. H. SHERRARD.
RICHMOND, October 30, 1861.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
You are authorized to retain General T. J. Jackson for the present. The Secretary of War has written to you on the subject by mail.
Adjutan and Inspector-General.